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Appendix C - Proposed resolution concerning the consideration of the unauthorised disclosure or publication of committee evidence or proceedings

(1)               That the House adopt the following resolution concerning the consideration of the unauthorised disclosure or publication of committee evidence or proceedings:

(a)      Notwithstanding the provisions of standing orders 51, 52 and 53, a complaint concerning the unauthorised disclosure or publication of evidence taken by a committee, or proceedings of a committee or documents concerning a committee, must be raised at the first opportunity at a meeting of the committee in question; and the House must be advised that the matter is to be raised, or has been raised, with the committee.

(b)      A committee concerning which a complaint of unauthorised disclosure or publication has been made must consider whether the matter has caused substantial interference with its work, with the committee system or with the work of either House, or whether it is likely to have such an effect.

(c)       If a committee wishes to consider such a matter further, it must seek to ascertain the source of any unauthorised disclosure and in order to do so letters must be written to all members of the committee and its staff asking if they have any knowledge as to the source of the disclosure.

(d)     If a committee concludes that the unauthorised disclosure or publication in question has caused substantial interference, or is likely to do so, and it wishes the matter to be proceeded with, it must set out its findings in a Special Report which must be presented to the House as the first available opportunity. Such a Special Report should spell out precisely what facts constitute substantial interference and precisely what has led the committee to conclude that substantial interference has occurred, details of the steps the committee has taken to ascertain the source of any unauthorised disclosure, the committee’s views as to the benefits of any further action on the matter, and its views as to the prospects of the source(s) of the disclosure(s) being discovered.

(e)      In considering complaints in this areas, and notwithstanding the provisions of standing order 51, the Speaker should not allow precedence to a motion on such a matter unless, in the light of the information presented to the Speaker, he or she is of the opinion:

(i)              that there is sufficient evidence that will enable the Committee of Privileges and Members’ Interests to ascertain the source or sources of the disclosure(s); or

(ii)           that the circumstances of the case are such that the issues of the protection of the committee system, or the protection of committee sources or witnesses are such as would warrant reference to the Committee of Privileges and Members’ Interests.

(f)     In circumstances where a matter has been referred to the Committee of Privileges and Members’ Interests under paragraph (1) (e), the Committee should have regard to the question of publication of the evidence or proceedings as well as the disclosure and consider:

(i)              whether it is appropriate to make a find of contempt in relation to the publication of evidence or proceedings; and

(ii)           whether recommendations are made to the House for the imposition of appropriate penalties on the journalists or news media involved.

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